We have received another letter from brother Ed. Williams, containing seven pages of manuscript, couched in courteous and brotherly terms, in which he disclaims any disposition for controversy, but being dissatisfied with our reply to his letter in the first number of the SIGNS of this year, whishes us to state what part of the man is, or must be born again in order that he may see the kingdom of God? If we had the time and ability to open a private correspondence, and faith to believe that anything we can write would be edifying or satisfactory to him, we would cheerfully make the attempt; but at our advanced age, we have all that we can do to write for the columns of our paper. We have already expressed such views as we have on the subject of the new birth, and the questions of brother Williams have been asked and answered so repeatedly during the last few years, that some of our subscribers have become wearied with the discussion. We have nothing to say on the questions of our brother that we have not repeatedly said, and continued repetition would, in our judgment, crowd from our columns matter of more promising interest to our readers generally. What we have written and published, has been an expression only of our views, when called on to express them. No brother is bound or desired to accept them, only so far as he finds them sustained by the scriptures and his own personal experience. We have not made them a test of fellowship. If the scriptures informed us of any part or parts of man that must be born again, we could refer our brother, or brethren, to the chapter and verse and leave the matter there. But if it is anywhere written in the scriptures, that a part of man must be born again, we have failed to find the passage.
Our savior did not say to Nicodemus that a part of man must be born again, or that the soul, spirit, or mind of man, but he said, “Except a man [without dividing the man at all] be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;” we repeat his words, and if brethren do not understand the words just as our Savior spoke them, let them ask at the throne of grace for a clearer light. We only give our own view, when we say we understand the man to include all that is born of the flesh, and all that constitutes him a man, that was born of the flesh, who must be the subject of a birth from above, or born of the Spirit, before he can see the kingdom of God, or have in him the spirit of Christ, without which he is none of his.
If a man’s soul, spirit and mind are born of the Spirit, and that which is born of God cannot sin, what is there left but the corporeal body, which without soul, spirit or mind is inactive and dead to war against the spirit which he has received from above? What law is there in the members of a man whose soul, spirit and mind are made so pure that they cannot sin because they are born of God?
But we will not enlarge; we very respectfully decline, at least for the present, to protract the discussion on the subject, unless something new shall be presented, and we admonish such of our brethren as cannot understand what God has testified on the subject, to ask of him who giveth wisdom liberally and upbraideth not.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 3.
February 1, 1881